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DuPage County family law attorney paternity

In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly common for parents to have children while they are unmarried. However, this can lead to issues when it comes to establishing the paternity of that child. Establishing paternity is an important step in securing the same parental rights and responsibilities for the father of a child that are not automatically granted when parents are unmarried. Most of the time, paternity cases are aimed toward proving the paternity of a child, though in some cases, disproving the paternity of a child can be just as important. The easiest way to deny the paternity of a child is to sign the Denial of Parentage form at the hospital when the child is born; however, this does not always mean you are off the hook for parental responsibilities.

Fighting the Presumption of Paternity if You Are Married

In the state of Illinois, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he was married or in a civil union with the mother at the time the child was born or during the 300 days prior to the child’s birth. This is true even if the child is not the man’s biological child, which is where issues can arise. If the presumed father is not the child’s biological father, he can sign a Denial of Parentage form, stating that he is not the father. However, he will still be considered the child’s legal parent and held responsible for child support unless the biological father signs a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form confirming that he is the child’s biological father. 

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DuPage County family law attorney divorce mediation

If you are getting a divorce, you might want to consider employing divorce mediation to help both you and your spouse reach a fairer and less stressful dissolution of your marriage.

In addition, many other issues in family law could be resolved through mediation as well, including child custody. Here is some more information about mediation in case you are considering it for you and your family.

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DuPage County family law attorney parenting time

After your Illinois divorce, you will most likely be spending less time with your children than you are used to, even if you have been granted the larger share of parenting time. Parents whose time is limited to weekends and the occasional weeknight or special occasion may find the aftermath of a divorce to be especially hard. With these limitations on time with your children, it is even more important to make the most of the time that you do have.

Tips for Quality Parenting Time

As you work to make sure that your parenting time is meaningful and to protect your relationship with your children, here are some suggestions that can help:

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DuPage County family law attorney prenuptial agreement

Finding a new romantic partner and planning a future together is an important step for many people after the stresses of a divorce, and it has the potential to enrich your life in many ways. However, a remarriage is usually not as simple as a first marriage, and there are important matters that you will need to consider before making the decision to move forward. Your remarriage will not only affect your life, but also the lives of your children and even your ex-spouse.

Important Considerations for a Remarriage

The choice to remarry after divorce is personal, and you and your new partner will certainly have your own considerations that factor into your decision. That said, the following three issues are likely to arise in many remarriages, so it is wise to keep them in mind.

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DuPage County family law attorney paternity

In many cases involving unwed parents, establishing legal paternity is important to ensure that the child has the financial support of both parents, and that the mother can rely on assistance from the father by way of regular child support payments. However, establishing paternity can also be crucial for unmarried fathers who wish to be part of their children’s lives, in that it helps them secure important father’s rights.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity for Unmarried Fathers in Illinois 

If you are an unmarried father, taking the steps to establish legal paternity can ensure that you have parental rights that may come into play in several different legal situations. One such situation is a potential adoption proceeding involving the child. If you have been legally recognized as the child’s father, the adoption of the child by another party will usually require your consent in addition to that of the child’s mother. By withholding your consent, you may be able to prevent an unwanted adoption and ensure that you remain your child’s legal father.

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Posted on in Adoption

DuPage County family law attorney adoption

When you think of adoption, chances are that you envision a situation in which a child in need is welcomed into a home and family that will love and care for them. It is true that most adoptions involve a child under the age of 18, but in Illinois, it is also legal to adopt an adult under certain circumstances. This process may not only cement a family relationship that the adopter and adoptee already feel on an emotional level, it can also provide the adoptee with important benefits under Illinois law.

When Can an Adult Be Adopted?

According to Illinois law, a person over the age of 18 can be adopted by someone who is related to him or her, such as a step-parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, cousin, or sibling, or by someone with whom the person has lived for at least two consecutive years. If you wish to adopt an adult and you meet one or both of these criteria, you can file a petition with the local county court to do so at any time. Unlike with the adoption of a child, you will usually not be required to undergo a home investigation, nor will you need to obtain the consent of the adoptee’s current legal parents. Rather, you will only need to be sure that the adoptee himself or herself consents to being adopted.

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DuPage County divorce attorney child custody

In most cases in which a child has two known, living parents, Illinois courts will determine that it is in the child’s best interest for both parents to share custody. In fact, in 2016, the state of Illinois changed the laws and language surrounding child custody so that the term “custody” is no longer officially used. Instead, these decisions are now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, out of recognition of the benefits of a cooperative arrangement. However, there are still situations in which a parent or another party acting on the child’s behalf can legally challenge the other parent’s rights to parenting time and parental responsibilities.

When Can a Parent Be Denied Parenting Time or Responsibilities?

First and foremost, an Illinois court will seek to establish a parenting agreement that serves the child’s best interests. It may be considered in the child’s best interests to restrict or deny one or both parents’ rights to parenting time and decision-making responsibilities if the parent:

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DuPage County family law attorney prenuptial agreement

Before your marriage, you and your partner may have given significant time and consideration to the creation of a prenuptial agreement that clarifies each of your interests in and control over marital and non-marital properties. A thoughtful prenuptial agreement can be useful not only to smooth the process of a possible divorce but also to reduce uncertainty and increase comfort throughout your marriage. However, you may find in the years following your marriage that your original prenuptial agreement is insufficient or no longer relevant to your current situation. In this case, you may want to consider legally amending it.

Reasons to Amend Your Prenuptial Agreement in Illinois

As long as you and your spouse agree on the need to amend your prenuptial agreement, you can do so at any time. It is often a good idea to revisit your prenuptial agreement whenever there has been a significant change in your financial or family circumstances, such as:

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Wheaton family law attorney parental rights

Whether they are divorced from their children’s mother or were never married, biological fathers usually have rights to some involvement in their children’s lives and responsibilities to contribute to their well-being. However, there are many situations in which a non-biological dad may also want to seek fathers’ rights after the relationship with the child’s other parent has ended. For example, you could have been part of a same-sex or opposite-sex couple in which a child was conceived through artificial insemination. You could be an adopted father or stepfather, or you could have raised a child believing you were the biological father and later found out otherwise. From a legal standpoint, these situations are not as clear-cut, but a recent Illinois court ruling has established that non-biological parents can have parental rights under certain circumstances.

Illinois Appellate Court Ruling on Non-Biological Parental Rights

In 2018, an Illinois appellate court heard a case involving a same-sex couple who conceived a child through artificial insemination and later separated. During the divorce, the child’s biological parent sought full custody, while the non-biological parent sought to assert parental rights including shared custody and visitation. The trial court initially ruled in favor of the non-biological parent, and the appellate court upheld the decision on the basis that there was a parent-child relationship and that the couple had made the joint decision to conceive through artificial insemination.

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Wheaton family law attorney stepchild

The United States is a nation in which a majority of families are divorced. However, many people find love again and choose to remarry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 1,300 new stepfamilies are formed every day. Becoming a stepparent can be stressful and intimidating. However, with realistic expectations and a certain approach to building a relationship, a sustaining bond can be created. In some cases, a stepparent may even wish to legally adopt his or her stepchild. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney assist you throughout the legal process.

Blended Families 

A remarriage often involves more than just a couple. One or both parents may have children from their previous marriages or relationships. If you are getting remarried after a divorce, and you will have a stepchild, keep these tips in mind for a smoother transition for everyone involved:

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Lombard, IL child abuse attorney

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) reports that 125,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect in the state of Illinois on an annual basis, and that one in five children will become a victim of abuse before they reach 18 years of age. In the midst of contentious divorce proceedings, or even long after a divorce has been finalized, it is not uncommon for DCFS cases to arise against one or both parents. Whether your former spouse, a neighbor, an acquaintance, or another family member makes a claim against you as a parent, any child abuse or neglect accusation can be life-altering and have far-reaching negative consequences on the entire family.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family 

Allegations of the mistreatment of your child are a grave matter, as they not only affect the relationship you share but also your child’s current and future mental health. The threat of such detrimental effects on your family leaves you with no choice but to address the allegations head-on. If you believe you are facing embellished or fabricated claims about your parenting, consider the following actions to better protect your family:

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Lombard, IL child support lawyer

In a divorce, child-related issues can prove to be contentious, and disputes may arise over child support obligations. Whether raising a child with an absent parent or within an antagonistic relationship, single parents have long faced significant challenges when it comes to child support here in Illinois. While new state laws that went into effect in 2017 aimed to better protect the well-being of children in need, they also made support matters more complicated for many families, due to new calculations that the courts now use to determine financial responsibility. Regardless of the specific amount of support, the custodial parent relies on that money for expenses related to the upbringing of his or her child. In some cases, a parent may need to take legal action to collect the payments that are due.

Assistance for Obtaining Child Support Payments

If you currently find yourself in a situation where you are in need of child support but are not sure where to turn for answers, rest assured there is assistance available to help you. Here are a few examples of how an attorney can help secure the resources necessary to raise your child alone:

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adoption attorney, adoption lawyer, Illinois adoption laws, Hague convention, family lawDetermining whether or not adoption is the right path for you takes careful consideration. It is not a decision you will reach quickly, because your decision may affect the child, you and your spouse, and the birth parents. There are some tough questions to ask not of the adoption agency but of yourself.

Planned Parenthood, a trusted healthcare provider of women around the globe, offers a list of questions to potential adoptive parents to encourage considerations before moving forward with your decision to adopt a child into your life and your home.

  • Am I ready to become a parent?
  • Do I have adequate finances to care for a child?
  • How will adoption affect my future?
  • Will I be haunted by the fact that I am not the biological parent?
  • Is adoption something I feel I should do or is it what I want to do?
  • How important are other people’s opinions of adoption to me?

You may also want to consider and truthfully explore the following pros and cons of adoption before contacting an experienced adoption attorney in your area.

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Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, Illinois Law, Guardianship, Illinois Family Law, Illinois Family Lawyer, Illinois Family Law Attorney, Arlington Heights Family Law Attorney, Legal Guardian, Health Care Surrogate Act, Disabled Adult, Power of AttorneyTaking care of a disabled adult, or helping them care for themselves, can be one of the most stressful and difficult ordeals a person and family can go through. In many cases, families consider assuming legal guardianship to make things easier. However, this is often the most restrictive alternative available to the disabled person. There are many alternatives to assuming guardianship in Illinois available under the law.

According to the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, it is important to explore the alternatives to guardianship before making a decision. After all, guardianship often means having the family’s private affairs examined publicly in court, and inviting court supervision for the future. Whenever possible, the situation should first be discussed with a team of professionals, including medical staff, social workers, caretakers, and an experienced attorney as well as family and friends.

Under Illinois law, an alternate means of medical decision-making for the disabled individual may be established under the Health Care Surrogate Act for a person who has become incapacitated.

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Children of divorced parents clearly have more hurdles than those from families whose parents are together. Aside from the winter holiday season, at no time in the year is this more obvious than during the summer. Children whose parents have split are often shuttled back and forth between the parents’ houses, oftentimes over state lines, a trip that can feature solo plane rides or long drives. Psychologist Brian Rooney told the Chicago Tribune that trouble in this scenario can arise for children of divorce because of their expectations. "They can range from realistic ones like, ‘Gee, I can’t wait to get away to Dad/Mom’s house, we’re going to do all kinds of stuff,’ to a feeling of being sent away to serve time." Rooney says it’s important for both parents to address these expectations and consider them when making summer plans with and for children of divorce.

In order to manage these expectations and subsequent emotions, the most important thing to do is to plan ahead, keep promises, and not to overblow or underemphasize the importance of the time apart. According to divorceandchildren.com, talking to your kids—especially if you’re the non-custodial parent who’s spending a significantly increased amount of time with your kids over the summer—is a good first step. If you make plans with them to go on vacation, or even just to the museum for the afternoon, it’s crucial to follow through. "Children need to be able to count on your word," reminds divorceandchildren.com.

Another great piece of advice for the non-custodial (but summer-sharing) parent to keep in mind is to not overdo it. "Sometimes parents may feel guilty about not having enough time with their children. When this happens, they may fall into the trap of trying to pack every moment of their time together with fun-filled, exciting activities," reports divorceandchildren.com. When this happens, the child can actually feel overwhelmed and run-around. The most important thing a child needs is quality one-on-one time with the parent. The time doesn’t have to be filled with activity to make it count.

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